Making Well: Health & Healing Through Green Crafts

The Fathom Trust

The Fathom Trust aims to promote health and healing, especially for people experiencing psychological distress by using traditional craft making, conservation, and contemplation to foster healthy social and cognitive development.

These activities, which can be described as ‘green care’, equip individuals with skills, social connections, and self-knowledge which help them to manage emotion and mood and connect to external reality. By learning to reflect on the purposeful use of their hands, individuals gain a healthy sense of who they are, what they might become, and develop an awareness of, respect for, and love of themselves, others, and the natural world.

The first 'Making Well' group at the start of their course in October 2021

With support from Accelerate, Bangor University’s Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation and Cardiff University, the Fathom Trust is running a six-month pilot programme to test a Green Prescribing approach for people referred from the local Community Mental Health Team, GP practices and the charity MIND. The course takes place on a farm in the Brecon Beacons and is delivered in partnership with the MIND ecotherapy project Green Minds together with local craftspeople, social prescribing link workers and volunteers from the local community.

Cardiff and Bangor Universities are helping us to evaluate this programme. Cardiff University has embedded an ethnographic researcher in the programme to develop a Practice of Change which will elucidate the individual process of self-realisation which we hope to see. Bangor University is helping us to demonstrate the social value of green prescribing by developing a Theory of Change and a social return on investment model to make a case for increased investment in preventative healthcare.

Making composting bins with hazel coppiced from the local wood
The completed composters
Learning whittling skills to make spoons, spatulas and butter spreaders
Identifying local herbs and edible fruits

The first group of ten participants completed their eight-week course in December and here are some of their reflections:

“I have felt safe at Fathom for the first time in my life.”

“I have struggled with Anorexia all my life. I never thought I’d be able to eat in public but have learned to look forward to our communal lunches at Fathom.”

“Fathom is my lifeline and it has become my extended family.”

“I have been suicidal with anxiety but since starting Fathom, I have developed the confidence to apply for a job and I am now working again.”

Our next group start later this month (January) and we are aiming to publish our study by Springtime.